how to get a botany degree

Last Updated on December 28, 2022

The Bachelor Degree in Botany - School of Biology and Ecology - University  of Maine

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Have you always been concerned about getting information on the How To Get A Botany Degree? This very post will do justice to all of your questions. As you read on, you will get to find out information about; How To Get A Botany Degree, botany degree online, how long does it take to become a botanist, botany salary and many other related information.

botany degree online

Put down roots in the field of plant science

Make a positive impact in a changing environment by earning your B.S. in Botany online from Oregon State University, and gain the foundational expertise in plant biology that can lead you down numerous promising academic and career paths. Oregon State is the first university in the U.S. to offer a botany degree online.

Oregon State Ecampus delivers a variety of degree programs online focused on plant and agricultural sciences. Explore similar programs.

Enroll in this program and join other 21st century plant scientists who will be called upon to develop innovations in producing food, fiber and medicine for an increasing global population. The botany curriculum will provide you with a robust understanding of plant biology, biodiversity and ecology, preparing you to address environmental impacts of human behavior on managed and natural ecosystems.

Where historical success meets modern-day innovation

Oregon State’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology was founded in 1909 and has developed a high level of expertise in delivering undergraduate education for the past 110 years.

This program blends the department’s deep roots with the cutting-edge learning format offered by Oregon State Ecampus, one of the nation’s top-ranked providers of online education.

Benefits of learning online with Oregon State

  • All classes are developed by OSU’s world-class faculty, who are renowned for their research, expertise and innovation.
  • Oregon State is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
  • Oregon State Ecampus is consistently ranked among the nation’s 10 best providers of online education according to U.S. News & World Report.
  • OSU Ecampus students receive the same diploma as on-campus students.

Get the support you need

Our goal is to help you succeed. That’s why, as an OSU Ecampus student, you’ll have access to vital resources like success coaching, library services, free online tutoring and career guidance – making your online learning experience collaborative and rewarding.

How To Get A Botany Degree

Botany – Undergraduate Degrees Online – Online & Distance Degrees | Oregon  State Ecampus | OSU Degrees Online

How To Become a Botanist in 7 Steps (With Key Skills to Have

A career in botany can increase your knowledge about the environment and the role of different plant species. Regardless of the type of botany you’re interested in, there are many important steps to becoming a professional in this field. Understanding botany can help you effectively use plants to protect the environment or identify problem-solving uses for them, such as using them for medicine. In this article, we explain what a botanist is, discuss what they do, provide steps to help you become a botanist and give examples of important botanist skills and how to use them.

What is a botanist?

A botanist is a scientist who studies plants on micro and macro levels. They examine all aspects of plants, such as how plants can help produce medicine, enhance crops in agricultural production, provide energy sources and cleanse contamination. They might also research the effects and relationships of plants within specific ecosystems to better understand how nature functions in those spaces.

Here are some examples of botany specialization areas you can work in:

  • Taxonomy: This is the study of finding new plant species and assigning them classifications.
  • Ecology: This is the study of plants in relation to their environment.
  • Biology: This is the study of interactions between plant cells in relation to daily functions and reproductive activities.
  • Paleobotany: This is the study of plant fossils that may be extinct to determine what time period they might be from.
  • Ethnobotany: This is the study of relationships between humans and plants.

What does a botanist do?

Botanists can perform a variety of duties depending on their area of specialization. Here are some common tasks botanists might complete:

  • Researching plants
  • Experimenting with plants to create medical solutions
  • Observing plant growth and functions
  • Examining previous plant and ecosystem conditions
  • Testing and analyzing plant properties

The job you have may influence your specific duties. For example, a botanist who specializes in taxonomy might test and analyze plant properties to determine how to classify them. Meanwhile, a botanist who specializes in ecology may test and analyze plant properties to compare the similarities and differences of plants in unique ecosystems.

How to become a botanist in 7 steps

If you’re interested in becoming a botanist, here are seven steps you can follow to help you meet your goal:

1. Get a bachelor’s degree

To work as a botanist, you usually need a bachelor’s degree. If the college or university you attend offers a botany-specific major, you may choose that as your area of study. However, if your college or university doesn’t offer a botany major, you might study topics like:

  • Ecology
  • Biology
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental science
  • Conservation management

Throughout your studies, you can engage in learning labs to help you grow your knowledge and skills for conducting future experiments. If you’re researching where to gain your bachelor’s degree in botany or botany-related studies, you may consider which options offer immersive lab experiences.

2. Consider a master’s degree

After you’ve earned a bachelor’s, you may continue your education and gain a master’s or doctorate in topics like plant genetics or molecular biology. Although you might not need a graduate degree for all botany jobs, some positions may require them such as biotechnologist or plant geneticist. In addition, if you’re interested in teaching botany or botany-related topics at the collegiate level, you may need to have a doctorate in a related area of study or equivalent work experience.

3. Pursue an internship

Pursuing an internship where you can work with plants can be beneficial because you can gain real-world learning experiences in botany or biology positions. Typically, you can engage in these opportunities while working toward your degree, and some colleges and universities also require students to complete an internship for their degree.

4. Find a mentor

Finding a mentor can help you on your journey to becoming a botanist. Mentors can guide your professional development and share their professional knowledge and experiences. Their expertise may help you reach your own career goals and establish yourself in the field, especially if they share professional connections with you. Growing your professional connections can be especially important to gain potential career opportunities.

5. Develop your botanist skills

Throughout your educational studies and internships, you can develop professional skills. This can include both soft and hard skills related to botany. These skills can be useful because many botany roles require you to conduct research, analyze results, communicate with other scientists and record your findings. You may also focus on developing other relevant skills depending on your area of specialization.

6. Complete professional certifications

If you’re interested in learning more about botany topics or staying updated with new practices, you can become a certified professional botanist or complete related certifications. Some examples of these certifications include:

  • Advanced horticulture
  • Traditional healing using plants
  • Sustainable farming

Related certifications may also include topics like conservation management or research data analysis. Meanwhile, professional botanist certification focuses on certifying you in botany best practices. Usually, colleges, universities or learning companies offer these types of certifications.

7. Join botany or conservation organizations

If you’re interested in expanding your professional botany network, you can join general or botany-specific conservation organizations. Some examples of organizations you might join are:

  • Botanical Society of America (BSA)
  • American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB)
  • American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT)
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Depending on your interests, you may choose to join other related organizations. To determine which organizations might work best for you, you can research the specific offerings each provides to its members.

Key botanist skills

Here are some examples of botanist skills and how you might use them:


Research skills are important for botanists because they often engage in plant research and you might need to conduct studies or experiments to examine different plant functions and qualities or identify unique classifications or species features. For example, you may conduct an experiment on plants to determine if their chemical properties can help cleanse a contaminated area.


Botanists can use analytical skills for a variety of duties. For example, if you’re completing a research study, you might analyze results to determine the outcome of your experiment. You may also use your analytical skills to examine relationships between plants and humans, plant cell interactions or the reproductive activity of plants.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking skills can help you make strategic and informed decisions while working as a professional botanist. For example, if you’re doing taxonomy work, your critical thinking skills may help you determine what classifications to assign to new plant species. This might include considering the properties, functions and environment of the new species and how those components can help classify them. For paleobotany, you might use critical thinking skills to determine the time period of plant fossils.


Communication is another important skill because you might need to communicate with team members, managers or stakeholders. For example, if you’re working as a botanist on a research team, you likely need to communicate clearly with your teammates. This can be especially important if your team includes individuals from diverse research backgrounds. These communications can include sharing research protocols, results from experiments or information about potentially useful plant properties.


You may also use writing skills for documenting your research and observations or developing comprehensive scientific reports. For example, throughout your work, you can document all of your findings and steps for future reference. If you’re working as a botanist manager, you might write formal reports to update stakeholders at each research stage. This can be especially important if the project you’re working on has outside funding.


Organizational skills are important for documenting and filing your scientific findings. If there isn’t already an organizational system where you work, consider developing your own system for your research. This might mean taking notes as you go through each research step or recording your progress with videos or images.


Observational skills can help if you need to examine plant behaviors or properties over set periods of time. You may need to perform tasks like these if you’re working as a biologist, ecologist or biomedical research scientist. Biologists and ecologists may observe plant functions, reproductions and the environment where plants live. Meanwhile, biomedical research scientists might use botany to determine whether a plant species can contribute to modern medicine.

Time management

Time management is another skill that might help when you need to work on multiple tasks daily or perform multiple research studies at the same time. Knowing how to manage your time effectively and efficiently may help you accomplish your tasks within deadlines. If you’re interested in boosting your time management skills, you might create things like daily prioritization lists or to-do lists where you can track your completed work.

how long does it take to become a botanist

How to Become a Botanist - Unity College

Becoming a botanist involves a career path that might take you about four years to eight years of studying. The amount of time you will expend to become a botanist will depend on the degree level you want to pursue. Usually, botanists tend to hold a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies or any related field, which can take about four years to get. However, botanists that want to focus on researching and teaching might need a Ph.D., which can increase their career path to eight years. So the time you’ll need depends on your interests. If you are still in high school, you could benefit from taking some coursework in physics, chemistry, biology, and any other classes related to your future profession. You could also join a botanic club or get a job where you can learn about plants and get some real-life experience, like botanical gardens, zoos, or greenhouses. Make sure you start improving certain skills like communication skills, research abilities, and analytical thinking since they will you as a botanist.

Requirements for a Career in Botany

Four years of college and a Bachelor’s degree are the minimum requirements for most careers in botany. With these, positions are available as laboratory technicians or technical assistants in education, industry, government, museums, parks and botanical gardens. As in other fields, a wider range of positions is available with more education and experience. Many positions require a Master’s or Doctor’s degree. A Ph.D. is required for most teaching and research positions in colleges and universities.

Researchers in the tropical rain forest of Costa Rica stand near the base of a Screw Pine, Pandanus sp., with numerous stilt roots supporting the plant. This is one of several modifications of plant parts that occurs frequently in tropical plants.
Photo courtesy of Knut Norstog.

High School Preparation

1. Course work
To prepare for a career in botany, you should take a college preparatory curriculum including: English, foreign language, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology. Courses in social studies and humanities are also valuable since botanists often get involved in public affairs at community and national levels.

2. Extracurricular activities
Other valuable experiences include participation in science fairs and science clubs. It also helps to have summer jobs or internships related to biology, such as working in parks, plant nurseries, farms, experiment stations, laboratories, camps, or for florists or landscape architects. Hobbies such as camping, photography, and computers are also useful.

3. Become informed
Get information on colleges and universities by writing to the Office of Admissions of each school you wish to consider and requesting a catalog describing school requirements, courses, and facilities. Your counselor or library may have some of these. Also ask for information about scholarships and other financial aid. Many schools do not have a separate department of botany or plant biology but instead have a department of biology that includes botanists. In any case, write, call, or better yet, visit the schools you are interested in and ask to meet with some of their botanists to discuss your career options and how they might help you to realize your goals. The Botanical Society of America office has a list of botanists’ names, addresses and phone numbers from all areas of the country. Its address and telephone number are listed inside the back cover of this booklet.

College Program of Study

The courses you select will vary depending on the curriculum of the college you attend and your own interests. To be best prepared for the job market, you should get a broad general education in language, arts, humanities and the social sciences in addition to specializing in plant biology. Most curricula require math, through calculus, and/or statistics as well as chemistry and physics. You should know how to use a computer. Some schools recommend, or require, a foreign language. This is especially important if you hope to work in the tropics.

Many colleges and universities require a core program in biology before you may enroll in specialized botany courses. At other institutions you can take botany courses right away. A faculty advisor will help you decide what courses to take. Whether your advisor is a botanist or not, visit with other botany professors in the department and ask for their suggestions.

If possible, you should arrange to do an undergraduate research project under one of your professors. The project might include helping the professor with his/her research or pursuing your own independent interests. This experience will help you decide which area or areas of botany you like best. It will also give you valuable insight into how science works. Research experience will also be very helpful should you decide to pursue graduate work.

Summer jobs or internships can provide important additional experience. These positions occur in government agencies, college and university research laboratories, agricultural experiment stations, freshwater and marine biological stations, and private companies. Start investigating summer opportunities early – the previous fall or winter. The best positions are usually filled by late spring.

The best piece of advice, regardless of your interests or which school you attend, is get to know the faculty. If you have questions about a course, ask your teacher after class or during office hours. If you are interested in laboratory or field work, let the faculty know and offer your services. Faculty are “turned on” to students who show interest – and you will be “turned on” to Botany!


On Teaching Botany

I became a botanist without knowing it! A shift of interest evolved gradually during my development as a biology teacher. After earning B.S. and M.A. degrees in zoology, I began teaching general biology at a community college in Southern California. My undergraduate background included courses in general botany and plant physiology, but my teaching assignment motivated me to learn much more about plants. I apprenticed with botanical colleagues studying the local flora so I could do a better job of leading my students on field trips to the nearby mountains and deserts. I also designed new lab exercises that used plants as experimental systems to engage students in the process of science without having to “sacrifice” animals.

Leading students to discover more about plants and the botanical sciences can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Photo courtesy of Marsh Sundberg.

In one of those labs, my students and I used the sensitive plant (Mimosa) to study the universal biological property of “excitability,” the capacity of organisms to sense environmental changes and respond to those stimuli. I never imagined that I would return, several years later, to the rapid leaf movements of the sensitive plant as an experimental model in my own research.

When I decided to resume graduate work to earn a Ph.D. degree, I chose the University of California at Riverside only because it was close enough for me to keep my teaching job. I studied the structure and function of salt glands that enable certain desert plants to thrive in salty soil. After publishing several papers, I accepted a faculty position at Cornell University, where my research focused on the cellular mechanism of leaf movements. It was not until I was a member of Comell’s Section of Plant Biology that I realized I had become a botanist.

My lab and field experiences with general biology students continue to shape my work. For the past several years, I have been writing biology textbooks back in California. It is an activity that keeps me in touch with undergraduates and secures a starring role for plants in my books.

Neil A. Campbell, Univ. of California, Riverside.

botany salary

The Salary of a Botanist

Some botanists work in laboratories, while others conduct observations in the field.

Botany is the study of plants and the study of plants is a big, diverse business. Plants are sources of medicines, foods, clothing fibers and building materials. Specialists in the various branches of botany apply their research to create improvements in all those products. At time of writing, the average botanist salary is $50,000.

What’s a Botanist?

There’s no one single answer to the question, “What’s a botanist?” because the study of plants encompasses so many specialties. All career opportunities in botany relate to the plant kingdom, which includes everything from sequoia trees to basil and rosemary. The classical study of botany included fungi, algae and bacteria, but modern science places those in their own kingdoms.

Among the specializations available to botanists:

  • Plant ecology, studying how plants interact with the environment and with other organisms.
  • Experimenting to see how plants grow under different conditions.
  • Searching the wilderness for new plant species.
  • Studying the anatomy of plants, whether in the field or under a microscope.
  • Studying plant biochemistry.
  • Researching plant genetics and DNA.

Applied Botany

While some botanists focus on pure research or discovering fundamental principles, others earn their botanist salary by applied science:

  • Agronomists use botanical research to increase food crop yields.
  • Some botanists work in natural resource management, figuring out to get maximum use of forests or soils without exhausting them.
  • Plant biotechnology creates useful products by genetically engineering plants.
  • Plant pathologists research plant diseases and find ways to combat them.
  • Botanists specializing in forestry work to improve management of timber forests.
  • Horticulture involves breeding ornament plants, fruit and vegetables.

One of the advantages of going into botany is that the plant kingdom is so vast, you can find a career to suit yourself. Whether you want to work in the lab or outdoors, breeding plants or studying them under the microscope, focusing on chemistry or ecology, there are career opportunities in botany to suit you.

Becoming a Botanist

Like other fields of science, a career in botany requires a college degree. You can start building your resume even in high school by taking jobs dealing with plants. Working on farms, experimental stations, botanical laboratories or with florists can all give you a feel for the plant world.

Most colleges offer botany degrees, and many offer degrees in botanical specialties. If you’re interested in issues that involve public policy, such as conservation or ecology, adding classes in sociology and public affairs can help prepare you for the political side of the job. Whatever your field or specialty, hands-on experience is good both for training and for getting a foot in the career door.

The Botanical Job Market

Most career opportunities in botany are in academia, at colleges and universities. This doesn’t necessarily mean teaching; lots of colleges maintain research laboratories. If you do want a teaching job, you’ll probably need a Ph.D. in your botanical field.

Next to universities, the main employer for botanists is the government, both federal and state. At the federal level, for example, there’s a long list of potential employers:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • The Medical Plant Resources Laboratory.
  • The Germplasm Resources Laboratory.
  • The National Park Service.
  • The Bureau of Land Management.
  • Public Health Service.
  • NASA.
  • Smithsonian Institution.
  • Environmental Protection Agency.

All 50 state governments maintain similar agencies that also hire botanists.

Beyond the Government

Besides academia and government, there’s industry. In addition to agribusiness, forestry and fruit growers, botanists work for drug companies, the oil industry, chemical firms, food companies, breweries and biotechnical firms.

While colleges, governments and business employ the vast majority of botanists, there are other options such as environmental and conservation groups.

The Botanist Salary

The average salary for all botanists, at time of writing, is $50,000. The salary range runs from $34,255 to $100,222. Given the range and diversity of jobs available, you may not be able to predict your salary with certainty until you get a job offer.

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